27 Apr 2020

Overcoming lockdown barriers with our digital solutions

Overcoming lockdown barriers with our digital solutions

As Britain shifts in response to Coronavirus and we are propelled in to lockdown, many businesses must make the decision to shut down ‘shop’ but this is not an option for everyone.

Our clients; councils up and down the country, have duties they can’t walk away from and we won’t leave them to face these alone.

We provide digital solutions that are vital in assisting local authorities to ensure the health and wellbeing of those who need additional support and care. The elderly, those with special educational needs and disabilities as well as young people in or leaving care all have serious needs that can’t be halted, while these continue, we do too. 

During this pandemic, our clients have turned to us for help. Many of them self-confessed techno-phobes feeling overwhelmed by the radical digital transformation taking place. It’s instinctive to try to hold on to familiarity but with individuals having to work remotely from home and maintain strong relationships with team members there is panic over how this will impact project results.

As leaders in a digital world it is our job and pleasure to help you confidently achieve these shared goals. We’ve got many a post-crisis achievement under our belt but most recently was when we co-designed an app entirely online...

We are fortunate enough to work closely with Achieving for Children - a community interest company (a not-for-profit social enterprise) providing children’s services for Kingston, Richmond, Windsor and Maidenhead. Pre-lockdown we agreed to build a questionnaire app for them that would serve to protect the health and happiness of children and young people in care.
Co-design is a fundamental part of the design process for us and we do all we can to involve those who will actually be using the service. We arranged an engagement session where we planned to visit the young people in person and talk to them about what exactly it is they want to get out of the app and how they’d want it to look and work. All with the help of visuals and opinions flying around a relaxed, shared environment. Then lockdown struck! All non-essential travel banned and social distancing enforced.
Our client's needs are of paramount importance so of course we didn’t let that stop us, we did what we do best. We made technology work in our favour and arranged an online engagement session with 15 people made up of young people, their carers and a few of us from focus and it went very well indeed!

We faced hurdles we had already prepared to jump. In place of the suggestion box we would usually have at a face-to-face engagement session, we had an email address so that the young people could send through any thoughts and comments they wished to share anonymously.
We screenshared fonts, colours and imagery to replace visuals usually projected on to a large screen or manually distributed.
We chose to limit session length to reduce agitation and gain more focussed responses. All with the aim of the co-production outcome remaining the same despite the remote nature of it but we’d argue it was perhaps even better!
We discovered that young people are more ‘talkative’ when they can hide behind a screen and type their responses which many did whilst verbal communication was ongoing. As a result of this we were able to receive twice as much input at any one time. Interaction via a screen is a more familiar communication method for young people now, making them more relaxed and in turn more open with their responses. This certainly showed in the material we came away with and how quickly we are currently moving forward with the fantastic project.

We continue to support you all during this difficult time. You may have heard about our popular secure messaging service - we have now made this available for free to allow councils across the UK to stay in touch with vulnerable and isolated members of society. You can read more about this over on our article titled 'Secure Messaging: free to use during Covid-19 pandemic'.

An urgent client need we responded to at great speed nearer the start of the pandemic was the wish to instantly publish updates around Covid-19. We added content to existing apps and websites to update their users and created dedicated micro-websites to host heavy content.

To strengthen and support communication between families, parents, carers and their SEND IASS teams we created an online booking system so they could schedule a telephone call with a real person to help them.

In times like these, digital technologies become more crucial than ever before. We may not be able to stay close to each other physically, but we still need to communicate with each other, socially as well as professionally.
It’s safe to assume the crisis will push digitalisation and companies know this but be careful not to trust in those that are only just offering this service now as a result of the pandemic. It’s all new to these reactive companies too and you don’t want to be a part of their learning curve. We don’t practice on you, we make sure you benefit from our knowledge and experience gained over the past 22 years.
In these uncertain times there’s one thing you can rely on; The team at focusgov. If you would like to find out how we can help you during these difficult times, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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